Be Prepared: 22 Things to Bring to Chemo

by Brittany McNabb

Screen Shot 2013 11 12 At 11.11.52 Am

Background: WhatNext.com is an online support network developed in partnership with the American Cancer Society that helps help cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers gain firsthand insight into living with cancer and connect with others facing a similar diagnosis. Members of WhatNext.com are sometimes referred to as "WhatNexters."

Your first chemo treatment is coming up and you’re not sure what to expect. Here is a quick list of things other WhatNexters have brought to their first chemo that has made them super prepared. Getting some of these things together might ease your anxiety about going to your first chemotherapy treatment; these are simply suggestions, but we hope that some will help you!

1. Book

A lot of WhatNexters pass the time with a good book. You could even start a new series. One WhatNexter started the Harry Potter series and loved it. Also, consider something that will make you laugh or keep you in suspense. Need suggestions? Here are some Top Cancer Support Books  at Amazon.

Chemo Book Via Eyespeeledalways.Blogspot

via eyespeeledalways.blogspot.com

2. IPod or Music

Some WhatNexters like to put some headphones in and listen to their tunes. You could make a chemo playlist with upbeat songs or relaxing selections if you plan on dozing. Inspirational and Motivational Songs to Help Fight Cancer  

Chemo Ipod Via Theceeword.Wordpress.Com

via theceeword.wordpress.com

3. Laptop or Tablet

Chemo infusion centers often have wireless internet; you can bring your laptop, tablet, IPad, nook, or Kindle (endless possibilities with these devices!) Laptops Tablets and Other Mobile Devices  

Chemo Ipad Via Sprintingtowards60.Com

via spirtingtowards60.com

4. Blanket and Pillow

WhatNexters bring a blanket and/or pillow to chemo for function and for comfort. Patients often say they get cold during chemo so it helps to cuddle up with a blanket. It also makes you feel more comfortable to bring an item from home. Hint: fleece blankets are very warm!

Chemo Fleece Blanket Via Shanielmcneil.Blogspot.Com

via shaniemcneil.blogspot.com

5. Sleeping Mask

It may seem silly but if your chemo treatment is long and you want to be able to nap then some WhatNexters have brought a sleeping mask with them. Maybe not every time, but it wouldn't hurt to keep one in your chemo bag. Check here for a variety of sleeping masks

Screen Shot 2013 11 12 At 10.41.46 Am

via deadmanskipping.com

6. Comfy Clothes, Sweatshirt, or Layers

Some WhatNexters say chemo is a good excuse to dress in sweatpants or yoga pants. It might be good to dress in layers since you can't predict the temperature of the room or what you'll be feeling yet. A lot of patients like hoodies because it can keep their head and neck warm.

Check out these comfortable clothes, head wraps, scarves, caps and chemo shirts.

Chemo Hoodie Via Eyespeeledalways.Blogspot

via eyespeeledalways.blogspot.com

7. Clothing with Port Access

You will probably want to be warm and comfortable but keep in mind the location of your port or where you will be getting chemo so that you can dress appropriately. Some wear a scoop neck shirt or button down shirt so that the chemo nurse can get to their port easily. 

Here are a variety of shirts, light jackets, and T-shirts with port access to wear to chemo treatments. 

Chemo Scoop Neck Via Spacebetweenwe.Wordpress

via spacebetweenwe.wordpress.com

8. Magazines

If you prefer to read magazines instead of books then bring a few. Save a certain magazine for chemo treatment so that you have something to look forward to reading. You could also bring catalogs to your favorite stores and catch up on your "window" shopping (you can do this online too!).

Chemo Magazine Via Healthlob.Com

via healthlob.com

9. Journal, Prayer Journal, or Blog

Some WhatNexters take chemo time to catch up on their writing whether they keep a diary, journal, or prayer journal. If you don't like writing and keep a blog, you could also catch up on posts on your laptop. 

Emo Journal Via Jsonline.Com

via jsonline.com

10. Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, or Other Mind Games

Some WhatNexters like to bring mind games or puzzles because it helps keep them distracted and also keeps them on their toes in an attempt to battle pesky chemo brain.

Chemo Crossword Puzzle Via Diyhealth.Com

via diyhealth.com

11. Board Games

If you bring a friend to chemo and want to do something interactive then you can bring games like Bananagrams, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Backgammon, or any others you enjoy. Here are a variety of board games to pass the time  

Chemo Games Via Kickingmycancer.Com

via kickingmycancer.com

12. Movies

Some like to bring movies or DVDs that they can watch on their laptops, especially shows or movies that make them laugh or feel good. (See suggestions below.) Here are some suggestions for inspiration, and motivational videos. 

Chemo Movies Via Thesilverpen.Com

via thesilverpen.com

13. Knitting or Crocheting

Some WhatNexters enjoy doing something crafting during chemo like knitting or crocheting. It can help keep your hands busy (warm) and you could even catch up on Christmas "shopping" (homemade gifts!).

Knitting Chemo Via Calendarscarfkal.Blogspot.Com

via calendarscarfkal.blogspot.com

14. Snacks

You can bring your own snacks to chemo or there may be some provided at the infusion center. It looks like the woman in the photo below has a pretty nice spread, but you can bring anything that you personally enjoy snacking on.

Chemo Coffee And Snacks Via Susyflory.Com

via susyflory.com

15. Plenty of Fluids

WhatNexters bring drinks like juices, water, and Gatorade. One WhatNexter suggested beverages at room temperature since you may experience sensitivity to cold while you get chemo.

Chemo Water And Gatorade Via Strengthforwillie.Com

via strengthforwillie.com

16. Hard Candy or Lemon Drops

Some WhatNexters get dry mouth and like to suck on hard candies, especially lemon drops during chemo.

Chemo Lemon Drops Via Walmart.Com

via walmart.com

17. Warm Slippers or Socks

Many WhatNexters bring warm slippers or socks because their feet will get extra cold. Especially in the summer if you are wearing sandals to treatment, you might want to bring something to cover your feet.

Cheom Fuzzy Socks

via marsha.buckok.com

18. Hat

Just in case your head gets cold, some will bring a warm hat; it might make a big difference!

Chemo Bundled Via Parade.Com

via parade.com

19. Bring a Friend

If you're a person that would like the company, bring a friend to chemo. Maybe you have a friend that you enjoy spending time with or want to invite different friends each time to mix it up.

Chemo Bring A Friend Via Kirsetnmattanddanny.Blogspot

via kristenmattanddanny.blogspot.com

20. Something that Will Make You Feel like Home

Although it might be hard, some WhatNexters try to pick something that will make them feel more at home while getting chemo.

Chemo Teddy Bear Via People.Com

via people.com

21. Something Inspirational

Just as WhatNexters like to decorate their home or their hospital rooms with all the inspirational notes from friends, you can bring something to chemo and hang it up to provide some encouragement when it gets tough.

Chemo Sign Via Gooddayforchemo.Blogspot.Com

via gooddayforchemo.blogspot.com

22. Goodies for the Chemo Nurses

One WhatNexter would occasionally bring nurses baked goods because giving to others made them feel better. It could be a kind thing to do that might brighten your own day (only do something like this if you feel up to it).

Chemo Donuts Via Pinboard Via Fredreiss

via whatnext.com/pinboard shared by fredreiss

Some WhatNexters say that they like to keep a bag packed permanently for chemo. Below is an example of everything that went into one chemo bag or chemo "care package." It looks like she included a blanket, a few books, a pen, headphones, hard candies, lotion, a water bottle, a journal, and a fun magazine.

Chemo Survival Kit Via Everydayrecorded.Com

via everydayrecorded.com

Lastly, you might want to have someone around to drive you to/from chemotherapy. It may be better to be safe than sorry; maybe someone can drive you home from your first treatment so you can gauge how you feel afterwards. Also, if you live alone you may want to have a friend "on call" in case you are too tired to do things around the house. Keep in mind that everyone reacts to chemo differently, but it won't hurt to be prepared. 

Did we miss anything? What is most useful and distracting item you take to chemo?

Best of luck as you go to your first treatment!
- WhatNext Team

If you've been diagnosed with cancer, take a minute to join the WhatNext community and find others near you who have been in your shoes. There’s no better way to get first-hand insights into living with cancer than by connecting with others who are currently doing just that.

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